Celebrating Black History Month

To celebrate this month I want to highlight some of Stephen Boyd’s African American co-stars.

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Stephen starred in two movies with an almost exclusive African American cast ; Slaves in 1969, and Black Brigade (or Carter’s Army) in 1970.

Slaves was one of the first Blaxspolitation movies which highlighted not only the abomination of slavery, but it also the sexual enslavement between a white master and his female slave.

Black Brigade highlighted the brave actions of a desultory army unit during WWII which is put to the test and heroically achieves a dangerous mission in Germany during WWII.

Stephen was also a cast member of Island in the Sun filmed in 1956-7, which was one of the first films to explore cross-racial relations on a Caribbean island, based on the novel by Alec Waugh.

So here’s to Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Dionne Warwick, Ossie Davis, Robert Hooks, Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor, to name a few!

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Boyd Likes Rough and Tumble Roles

LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD

By Florabel Muir

Boyd Likes Rough and Tumble Roles

Stephen Boyd is one actor who is satisfied to play rough and tough characters rather than romantic leads. “Give me a part with guts in it, and I’ll be happy no matter how big an SOB the character is,” he explains.

The actor gets his wish in spades in the role of “Bosky Fulton,” villainous guide to a group of stranded European aristocrats in “Shalako,” the multi-million dollar western recently shot in Almeria, Spain. The Cinerama release, set in the America Southwest, also stars Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery, which makes it an odd sort of western.

The fact is, Boyd has played the “bad guy” during the greater part of his career, which means that he usually is playing second fiddle to the “good guy,” the star of the film.

He essayed the role of the charming but deadly Nazi counter espionage agent in “The Man Who Never Was.” Clifton Webb starred. Boyd was prominent in the casts, but not quite starred in , “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” “Genghis Khan,” and “The Bible,” as well as “Island in the Sun,” “The Bravados,” “A Woman Possessed,” and “The Best of Everything.” He did star as the greatest heel of all time in “The Oscar,” a film that didn’t quite reach the expectations of the critics.

Then, of course, there was “Ben Hur.” Boyd’s performance was great. You may also remember, however, that Charlton Heston won the Academy Award for this work in title role.

“Shalako,” a Dimitri de Grunwald production directed by Edward Dmytryk, is Boyd’s first western. The actor, who was born in Ireland but who became an American citizen in 1963, has been eager to do a western since he began in films 15 years ago. “I know it’s strange for an Irishman to want to play in a western, but so I always did.”

The ruggedly built Boyd is delighted with learning the tricks of the cowboy acting profession. For the film he had to learn to ride horses bareback and western style.

He underwent intensive training in how to wield a trusty six-shooter. Gun coach Rod Redwing notes, “Boyd is close to the fastest pupil I’ve ever coached.”

“Shalako” also provides Boyd with the opportunity to practice his Judo and Karate techniques in several sequences. “I studied Judo and Karate several years ago because I know they would come in handy. It’s really why I worked at it. I always know I’d use the training for a part in a western if I ever got to play in one and so I am,” he says with apparent pride.

As for his personal life, Boyd has had a rough- and- tumble difficult life. He had had to push ahead with sheer will power. He had nine older brothers and sisters and that alone was enough to give him determination.

Actually, the wildly gregarious actor is half Irish and half Canadian. Interestingly enough, he was born on July 4, and now that he is am America citizen, he is quite happy about this coincidence.

Boyd, known as a swinging bachelor, had been linked romantically with a number of celebrated beauties. Indeed, the life of one great international star might have been quite different if one film had not been postponed. Because it was, Boyd was required to withdraw from the commitment “due to a conflict in schedules.”

The film was “Cleopatra.” Boyd was originally set to essay the role of Mark Anthony opposite Elizabeth Taylor, but because of her protracted illness the picture was halted for six weeks of shooting. Boyd was forced to exit the film, and was, as you remember, replaced by Richard Burton. The rest is history.

Does Stephen Boyd have any second thoughts? Hardly. “I’m an Irishman. I could hardly get my Irish up over a situation like that.”

Boyd credits Sir Michael Redgrave with his biggest boost as an actor. Steve was a doorman at a theatre in London when he was asked to assist in helping stars onto the stage at the British Film Academy Awards. Sir Michael, who was presenting the awards, noticed the professional bearing and dignity of the young doorman.

Sir Michael says,”It was just intuition. After inquiring about Stephen’s acting background, I merely gave him a letter of introduction to the Windsor Rep. He carried his success from there.”

At one time Boyd was under a long term contract to Twentieth Century Fox which gave him his first ‘starring’ role in “The Man Who Never Was.” Now older and more experienced, Stephen considers actors unwise to sign themselves to companies for long periods. “It’s a bloody bore! You lose all control of your own career and become a ‘Property.’ You can have no free will about the parts you play and this way you run the danger of becoming typed.”

Ten years after he met Brigitte Bardot for the first time, Stephen Boyd and the world’s foremost sex kitten were reunited at the same site where they made their first picture together.

But what a difference a decade made.

When B&B first traded kissed in Almeria, Spain, Steve was just two years into an acting career, barely getting underway, and Miss Bardot, at that time, was already one of the most famous screen females in the world.

The movie filmed in 1957 was called “The Night Heaven Fell.” Almost exactly ten years later, in an Almeria transformed from a sleepy vacation spa on Spain’s southern Costa Del Sol to the most popular movie location site in the world, B&B became a team again- this time in a multi-million dollar western, “Shalako.” The picture, the setting, a lot of things had changed. But some qualities remain always the same. Bardot – and Boyd.

(Copyright, 1968. By News Syndicate Co, INC.)

Stephen Boyd – Always a Gentleman on the Movie Set

In the current environment of Hollywood, I think Stephen Boyd would have been very popular among female activists. Stephen had a reputation of being a perfect gentleman and consummate professional on the movie set…even when the director didn’t want him to be! The below story from Florabel Muir in 1966 tells a funny tale on the set of “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”. Stephen is asked to ogle co-star Yvette Mimieux during a film scene, which he does on cue, but only after being asked to do so by the movie’s director Russell Rouse (“The Oscar”).

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The Times, Shreveport, Friday August 26, 1966

HOLLYWOOD – Invariably emphasized in picture making are the mystic emanations of ionized sex between male and female – that funny thing called love. Watching Russell Rouse guiding Stephen Boyd and Yvette Mimieux thru a scene in “Caper of the Golden Bulls” at Paramount provided a primer lesson on this subtle alchemy of movie-making.

Boyd, fully clad, was ambling by as Yvette climbed out of a pool in a scanty bikini. He did not even glance in her direction. Rouse hollered, “Hey look at her, willya?” Boyd retorted, “Why, it’s not in the script!” Rouse reminded him acidly, “The script doesn’t have glands; you do. Now try it again – and if you have a lascivious expression, use it?” So Stephen put on his best leer, and Rouse ordered, “Print it!” Boyd likes working for Rouse and his partner, Clarence Green. While “Caper” is shooting, he is talking a new five-picture deal with them. This interesting Belfast Irish- American has been a bachelor for more than six years now, having been divorced from Mariella Di Sarzana in January, 1959, after a marriage that lasted less than five months. Nowadays he doesn’t go out with girls much, preferring golf day times and good books in his bachelor pad nights.

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Part 8. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” by Harry Whittington – The Tigress and The Soldier

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“You’re tired, Livius, “Timonides said. “You need rest more than violence. ” He smiled, “Even the violence of my little tigress.”

Livius didn’t look at Xenia again. He watched Timonides, puzzled. “Don’t you ever need anything, Greek? Aren’t you roused by animals like that?” He jerked his head toward Xenia, still without giving her a glance.

“I have my problems, “Timonides said. “The Greeks are a jealous, proud, race-conscious people. I am like that. I was like that. I learned a great deal from Marcus. I taught him much but I learned more from him. Resignation. Acceptance.”

“Lessons I’ll never learn.” Livius pressed his fingers hard against his eyes, seeing lights and prisms of color from the pressure. He stared a Timonides. “I’ve fought in battles for eleven years, and faced death many times. I have overcome much, many fears. Yet you seem more at peace, more certain of yourself than I am. Why?”

Xenia moved with the lithe grace of a lynx, soundless as a shadow. Timonides had grown accustomed to her presence, and Livius was too exhausted to care what she did. They were deeply absorbed and did not see her lunge suddenly, before Timonides could answer the imperium. She grabbed the sword. It whistled free of its scabbard, glinted in the yellow light as she sprang toward Livius.

The only sound Xenia made was the hissing inhalation as she threw up her arms to strike. It was enough, too much. Timonides swung around and thrust his arm in the same movement between Xenia and Livius.

Livius, roused by Timonides’ silent wheeling about, moved with the instinctive speed of a combat-trained soldier. He sprang upon Xenia, turning, and could only partially block the sword thrust.

Timonides bit his lip, face twisting in pain. The sword had laid open his upper arm. Blood spurted, spilling over his tunica.

Livius glanced at the slave, moved past him, reaching out with quick, deft movement, snatching the sword from Xenia.

In a fluid, continuous motion, he brought his other arm up, backhanding Xenia across the face and sending her sprawling.

Xenia struck a tent support, almost toppled around it, clutching at the wood for balance. Then she slid beyond it, moving into a shadowed corner, crushed, cringing, numb with physical shock as she watched Livius stalk toward her, blood-smeared sword red in his fist.

The fiery green passion of hatred died in her eyes and she slumped inward, watching dully for the death stroke.

Livius’ face was cold. He raised his sword over her.

From behind him, Timonides cried in anguish, “No! No!”

Clutching his blood-covered arm, Timonides ran to them. He caught Livius’ upraised arm. He shook his head, mouth gray. “I don’t want her punished, Livius.”

Sword still upraised, Livius stared at him incredulously. “But she tried to take your life. She’s wounded you. You must kill her.”

They both stared at the girl crouching numbly in the corner…

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Suddenly, Xenia slumped to the ground, sobbing.

Livius jerked his head around, staring at her in amazement.

From the ground the quivering girl whimpered, “I no longer want to be a warrior.”

Livius had already heard more than he could comprehend. He demanded grimly, “What is it you want to be?”

Xenia answered, but her voice was almost inaudible, as though all this were too new for her, feelings she didn’t understand and had no words for , and was almost ashamed of uttering. “A woman…I do not want to kill any more.”

Livius knelt, lifted her easily by her shoulders. He held her at eye level, inspecting her suspiciously. “Give up your arms and live in peace?”

Xenia avoided his eyes, mumbling. “I want—to live in one place – with one man – the way the Romans do.”

Timonides, tending his slashed arm, glanced up at this with a wry smile. “The way the Romans say they do–”

But Livius was staring at the girl. He lowered his slowly until she was back on the ground. His expression was a mixture – suspicion, disbelief and faint, replenishing hope.

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Before there were Razzies, there was the Harvard Lampoon Awards!

Today the annual Razzie Awards came out to celebrate the worst performances and movies for the year. These awards started in 1980. The previous association that would issue this type of award was from student humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon, based at Harvard University in Massachusetts. This award humorously began in 1939 and they would annually announce a “Movie Worst Issue” magazine.

The Worst Actress award was called The Natalie Wood Award because Natalie Wood had won this dubious prize for three consecutive years in the early 1960’s. She even went to Harvard to personally accept the award in 1966. What a good sport!

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Natalie Wood at Harvard accepting her Worst Actress Award in 1966

The Worst Actor award was called The Kirk Douglas Award. I can’t seem to find which movie gave Kirk this distinction. Maybe it’s a slew of them!

And yes, for the year of 1966-1967 our Stephen got a special mention for something called “the Roscoe Award”. See below!

(George) Peppard was named for the “Kirk Douglas Award” as the year’s worst actor for his performance in “The Blue Max.”

Miss Andress was chosen for “The Natalie Wood Award” as worst actress for her part in “Casino Royale.”

The 10 worst pictures were ranked behind 1) “Is Paris Burning?” in this order: 2. Hurry Sundown; 3. The Oscar; 4. The Fortune Cookie; 5. The Bible; 6. A Countess from Hong Kong; 7. The Blue Max; 8. Fantastic Voyage; 9. Torn Curtin and 10. Penelope.

Leslie Caron was named the worst supporting actress of the year for “Is Paris Burning” and John Huston the worst supporting actor for “The Bible.”

Stephen Boyd was given the special Roscoe Award, with the notation that “This coveted trophy is awarded annually to the actor or actress who, in the past year, has most memorably displayed that certain unskilled, clumsy quality that has marked the products of Hollywood since the early days.”

It went to Boyd for “his starring roles in The Oscar and Fantastic Voyage and for his brief but significant appearance in The Bible.”

Bennington Banner, May 25, 1967

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Ouch. Sorry Stephen. Frankie Fane would not agree with this assessment and neither do I. But I hope Stephen took this news as well as Natalie Wood did!

In another example of this humorous publication, here is a sample from 1966:

The Piltdown Mandible (presented annually for the lamest example of scientific improbable phenomenon): This year to the producers of Fantastic Voyage for assuming that the molecules which made up the submarine would not re-expand to normal size because said submarine had been devoured by a white corpuscle; and to the lame cow in The Bible who supplied an estimated 974,000 gallons of milk to all the animals on the Ark for 40 days and 40 nights
The Merino Award: To the two merinos on the Ark in The Bible

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..and from 1964:

Worst Performance by a Cast in Toto: The entire population of Western Europe for its performance in The Fall of the Roman Empire

Stephen Boyd takes Marilyn Hanold to “The Oscar” Premiere, 1966

Stephen Boyd was known for taking some of the most stunning Hollywood starlets out on the town, or at least out to his latest premiere. In 1966 Stephen took actress and model Marilyn Hanold to the premiere of “The Oscar” and apparently became the envy of the ‘other Hollywood guys’, according to a newspaper snippet at the time.

“Stephen Boyd, star of “The Oscar,” has another reason to be happy. That bosomy beauty on his arm these nights in Hollywood is lovely Marilyn Hanold from NY who used to carry George Gobels fiddle on his TV show. Other Hollywood guys are drooling.”

Lansing State Journal, February 23, 1966

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Marilyn Hanold had her career as a pin-up for men’s magazines in the mid- 1950’s and was a Playboy Centerfold in 1959. She was a minor Hollywood starlet in the 1960’s at the time she was with Stephen, but I must say, she is stunning! They make a very attractive pair out on the town.

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Elke on one arm, Marilyn Hanold on the other – Lucky Stephen Boyd!